Finding interpreters

In their own language

One of the key challenges when serving newcomers is communicating with them in their own language. Refugees, in particular, have a limited knowledge of English or French.

Ottawa Language Access is here for you. This program offers providers language interpretation on request. To qualify for this program, you must be:

Types of interpretation available

You can request interpretation services be provided in one of two ways:

• Face-to-face: An interpreter is physically present at the session and interprets the conversation that occurs within that setting among the clients, service providers and others present in the room.
• Over the phone: The provider is connected to an interpreter through an agency and the interpretation occurs with the use of a speakerphone or headsets.

Providers in the Ottawa Valley and other parts of rural Eastern Ontario should consider using over-the-phone interpretation services.

Trained interpreters will always speak in the third person and will interpret the messages between two parties directly and in the same register as the speaker.

Professionally trained medical interpreters are required to keep all information discussed during medical appointments confidential.

Urgent access to interpretation services

In response to the growing demand for immediate 24/7 access to over-the-phone interpretation, providers can access, on a fee-for-service basis, Remote Interpretation Ontario Network.

The network has a call-centre model that pools together non-profit community interpretation agencies across the province to provide on-demand, over-the-phone services.

To access the network, you need to set up an account with a six-digit client ID. You will be asked for your client ID when you call to reach an interpreter.

The network is accessible from anywhere within North America through a toll-free number: 613-691-0192

For more information, call the toll-free number, or send an email to

Service rates:

Over-the-phone interpretation Rate Notes
Scheduled (includes message relays and conference calls) $50 per hour (minimum 15 minutes) Billed at $12.50 per quarter hour. Long-distance charges may apply. Cancellations must be made at least 24 hours prior to the appointment.
Unscheduled $1.63 per minute Billed by the minute. Long-distance or dial-out charges may apply.

Where else is interpretation available?

Interpretation services are available at the designated primary-care hubs where our centre refers some of our newcomer clients for their initial medical visits.

Most departments at hospitals have access to language-interpretation services. If your patient needs an interpreter, always ask for one at the time that you schedule an appointment for them. The interpreter assigned to your patient will then call them to confirm the date, time and location of the appointment.

Why use interpreters?

Using trained medical interpreters ensures your patients accurately follow your interaction with them, reducing any chances of misunderstandings that can compromise the safety of their care.

How to book an interpreter

Ask for an interpreter to be arranged at least 24 hours before they are required. You can book an interpreter in one of two ways:

  1. Call the Ottawa Newcomer Health Centre: 613-691-0192 extension 6007
  2. Complete this written request for interpretation.